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- Make an Elegant Upholstered Cornice -
Part one: Cutting 

Judy demonstrates the methods she uses to make an upholstered cornice board. For this customer, Judy made two matching cornice boards. Though they were different lengths, she maintained the shape and scale between the two. She determines the length of the cornice by measuring the window. 
Most cornices will be going over draperies, so she adds 10" to the width of the outside casing measurement so the draperies will open beyond the window. For a cornice without draperies, she just adds 4". 

For depth, she uses 6" for windows that will have draperies (to allow clearance for the rod) or 4" for a plain window. The height of the cornice will depend on a number of factors. 

First, how tall is your room? The taller and larger the room, the larger the cornice. 

How big is your window? The bigger the window, the bigger the cornice. 

Do you have a built in bookcases or other considerations that will determine the size of the cornice? Take a look at the overall wall that you'll be adding to. You might try several sizes out of cardboard first to get the look and scale that you want. Judy usually uses 14" or 16", as these seem to cover most rooms. 

To ensure this, she made a template out of muslin to allow her to perfect the profile. She folded the template in half and laid out the shape in pencil. Then she cut both halves at the same time. This balances the profile with a perfectly mirrored shape. Because she has made many of these with various shapes, she just picked one off of the shelf. 

We use 3/8" plywood, usually A-C (this denotes the quality of finish on the two faces) for the front panel. Number two pine will work fine for the tops and ends. We used 1 X 4's for these cornices (1 x 6's for cornices with draperies). We strip the plywood, for these cornices, at 14", and cut them to length. If the cornice is going to be longer than 8', then we join an extra piece to the panel by cutting another backing piece of plywood at about 10" wide and 4" less than the height of the panel.. in this case, 10"(14" - 4"). More on that later. 

 
After the plywood is stripped to width and cut to length, Judy centers the pattern and transfers the design to the plywood.
If the cornice is to be longer than 8' (the length of the plywood), the 10" square gets glued to the back of the butted strips, clamped lightly and fastened with brads, short screws or longer staples. Be sure to leave 1" clear at the top to allow for your 1 X 4 top plate. The bottom of the glue plate shouldn't show. Some shops use a corrugated nail for this. They're wavy strips of metal that pull the faces together. If you plan on using these, then be sure to nail from the back so that they won't show if you can't nail them all of the way in.

    She then cuts the pattern with a jig saw, being careful of her lines. If this is done carefully, no further finishing of the profile is necessary. This is not finished cabinetry and it will be covered with welt, gimp or a decorative rope, so it's not that fussy. Just try to keep rounded lines smooth and round and straight lines straight.

 
 We cut the 1 X 4 pine top piece to the same length as the plywood. The side pieces to the same width as the plywood minus the thickness of the pine. In this example, the side pieces would be 13 1/4" each (14" - 3/4"). She glues and nails the tops to the sides using 1 1/2" ringed nails. Then she glues the edges of the frame and nails the plywood panel to the face.  

From there, we leave the wood shop, and head over to Judy's shop for the sewing and upholstering. 

Cutting Upholstering Welt Finish

Upholstered Cornice:
  

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Send comments and inquiries to: cornice@fabricworkshop.com

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P.O. Box 204 Centerbrook, CT 06409

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